Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Hindu Response to Globalization

Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Hindu Response to Globalization

Article excerpt

Globalization

Before we try to ascertain the Hindu response to globalization, let us first examine in a critical way what globalization really means in the world today. Globalization generally refers to an expansion beyond national borders that includes all aspects of human life and culture, but particularly related spheres of business, science and technology. It is the dominant theme in multinational corporations and in the media with its worldwide coverage of the news. We find people of all races, nationalities and religions participating in a global exchange of information, ideas, and commodities, as well as working with people from distant parts of the globe.

Globalization has also brought about a migration of many peoples, including a Hindu Diaspora. There are now significant Hindu minorities in North America and UK not as old indentured servants but as the new cultural elite of computer programmers, doctors and engineers. Peoples are mixing all over the world as the whole planet gradually becomes a single melting pot.

Globalization is often projected uncritically as if it reflected some necessary good for everyone. Certainly the benefits of globalization are evident in greater affluence, better communication and advancements in technology. But globalization already has its shadows with a deteriorating effect on the environment and an alarming persistence of poverty in various nations of the world, including those extensively exposed to globalization.

Planetary Thinking

A related term to globalization is "planetary." Some thinkers speak of the new "planetary age" that is dawning in which we are becoming cognizant of ourselves as citizens of the entire globe rather than as only having a loyalty to a particular country, culture or religion.

Planetary could be called the positive side of globalization. It refers to a holistic vision of life and of the earth. It implies the need to protect not only the natural environment, but also traditional cultures and non-Western ways of living. Perhaps the main idealistic pursuit in the West today is ecology, which flows out of this planetary vision. Prominent ecologists are often opposed to globalization, in which business interests override both human and natural interests, like the cutting down of the rain forests by multinational corporations.

Multi-culturalism and the Clash of Cultures

A third related term to consider is "multi-culturalism." This implies that we live in an era in which we must consider the needs and value of cultures throughout the world -- that no one culture should dominate all humanity. This means that not only European but also African and Asian cultural models have their importance and their place in the world order.

Yet multi-culturalism connects with its opposite, the idea of the "clash of cultures" made famous in the recent works of Samuel Huntington. In this view the different cultural spheres of the world, like the Western European, Islamic or Hindu are like hostile nations of old. We are coming into an era of cultural warfare, not so much through the battlefield as through the media and through economics. Cultural spheres rather than national boundaries are the main lines of division and confrontation.

Cultural chauvinism and isolationism still continues strongly in the era of globalization, even among the countries supposed to be the most global in views. For example, the average American, from the country pioneering globalization is unlikely to speak any language other than English and is unable to explain even the basics of foreign cultures or religions. During the 1991 Gulf War it was found that over 50% of Americans didn't even know where the Persian Gulf was located.

Many traditional cultures, like vanishing species, are disappearing in the onslaught of global business. Therefore the effect of globalization has been primarily to project the same culture for everyone, rather than to increase respect for all the cultures of the world. …

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